Environmental impact of the fashion industry the whole truth

Impacto medioambiental de la industria de la moda toda la verdad

We are all passionate about fashion, buying new clothes or accessories is always something we love to do, but what many may not be aware of is that this industry has a very large environmental impact.

In recent years, this industry has received a great deal of criticism for not being considerate of the environment and attacking it in one way or another.

Perhaps now you are wondering: "How much does the fashion industry pollute?" this industry is exposed in the world public agenda.

But if you want to know a little more about the subject, this time I will mention the main environmental impacts of the fashion industry; So without further ado, let's get started.

The fashion industry and its environmental impact

impacto medioambiental

Believe it or not, the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, even ranking number two, after the oil industry, which is located in the number one position.

And if we start to investigate, the figures do not lie, each year this industry emits a large amount of greenhouse gases and requires approximately 2,500L of water to produce a cotton shirt; very alarming figures.

Why do we say that these are alarming figures? Taking into consideration the life cycle of a product and its various stages, we realize how long a road must be covered before the consumer can take it into account. your hands, and where each stage has its own environmental impact.

One aspect that has caused a significant increase in environmental impact is fast fashion, or what is known as fast fashion, and that is that this "trend" consists of creating new clothing at very low prices, which has led to a greater amount of clothing produced and discarded.

But if you want to know what the environmental impacts of the fashion industry are, I will mention some of them below:

Use of water

A lot of water is needed to produce clothes, and this type of industry makes its clothes mostly with cotton and the rest with polyester. What does this have to do with water consumption? Well, a lot and I'll explain why.

Cotton is a fairly thirsty crop, which means that it needs a lot of water. To give you an idea, producing a cotton polo shirt requires approximately a thousand liters of water, which is undoubtedly quite a lot.

But that's not all, since the largest amount of water consumed occurs in the user's use stage, and not so much in the production of the garment. What I mean by this? that if we wanted to contribute to the environment and reduce the consumption of water in the fashion industry, we should wash less clothes, because that is where most of the vital liquid is spent.

Water pollution

Another impact of the fashion industry is water pollution, and according to some published figures, it is estimated that textile production is responsible for approximately 20% of the pollution in the world regarding clean water.

But what is the reason for this water contamination? Because of the dyeing and finishing products used in the production process. Let's see, the washing of synthetic materials releases approximately 0.5 million tons of microfibers into the ocean every year.

On the other hand, the washing of synthetic clothing represents 35% of micro-plastics that are released into the environment. To get an idea, a single load of polyester clothing can produce 700,000 micro-plastic fibers which can end up in the food chain.

Greenhouse gas emissions

According to estimates, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, as is the case of carbon; surpassing even international flights and maritime transport.

We must also take into account that a garment can literally go around the world, while the production process is carried out. In addition, with the rise of online shopping, it makes brands pressure themselves to gain greater speed, which is why they choose to send garments by plane, where emissions are higher compared to those by ship.

Textile waste in landfills

It is no secret to anyone that today there are more garments on the market at affordable prices, which is what I mentioned in one of the previous points known as fast fashion.

Due to this trend, purchases per person have increased, and everyone wants to take advantage of this drop in prices, however, this has caused the useful life of clothes to be reduced.

And let's see, it is not the same to get a few pieces of good quality, as many cheap ones, which will certainly not have the same condition. This leads to more garment waste, because used clothing, when not in good condition, is often deposited in landfills.

That is why we always opt for a minimalist lifestyle, where quantity does not matter but quality. If we buy fewer clothes, but they are made with good materials, they will not be damaged as easily, and if we no longer want to use them, we can simply donate them, instead of throwing them away.

Use of chemicals

This point is very important and perhaps one of the most worrying, and it is that the fashion industry uses a large number of different chemical products in the process manufacturing.

These chemicals used tend to seep into the soil, causing infertility in the soil and a decrease in biodiversity, and basically these products not only interrupt biological processes but also destroy microorganisms, plants and insects.

What can be done to mitigate the environmental impact of the fashion industry?

With this we have been able to know the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and realize how alarming and dangerous it is for the sustainability of the planet; And not only that, but also how detrimental it is to our health and well-being in general.

That is why it is important to establish a change, because if the industry continues as it has been doing until now, the damage will be worse. Even as individuals and consumers, we can contribute our grain of sand and contribute to our environment, which needs it so much.

Fortunately, some proposals for alternative economic and industrial models have begun to be established, such as the case of the circular economy, which undoubtedly help to take a step forward in improving the situation, and the industries of fashion are advancing in this line.

But beyond that, it is important that we all look for sustainable alternatives that contribute in one way or another to reducing that environmental impact.And it is that the need for a change to a more sustainable fashion is extremely evident, we all know it, and we must make our contribution so that the change occurs effectively

So, what must a fashion company or industry do to be sustainable? What strategies should you implement? If you are asking yourself these questions, pay attention because below I will mention the first steps to move towards a more sustainable environment:

Get informed

It is important that all fashion companies or industries inform themselves, and it is necessary to take into account that many of them act in a way without knowing the damage they are causing.

Therefore, it is necessary to find out about the problems that will be generated if you act or follow the "normal logic", once you know all the consequences, it is important that you commit to making a change, because if you continue to act the same, it will be useless.

Assess the life cycle

It is necessary that as an industry you evaluate the entire process or life cycle to know where the greatest impact is generated. Focus on the things that worry you and if it is within your reach, act to improve the situation.

Carry out a schedule

Carrying out good planning is essential for changes to occur, so once you identify the problems, do not be mortified because they are too big or try to solve them all at the same time time.

You must establish a plan and not do things on the first day, since you are dealing with an issue related to the environment, so take your time to do things right, at the right time.


It is important to work within a system, what do I mean by this? Well, you should look for someone, a collaborator who will help you carry out that change that you want so much, and how it will do the environment good.

Improve every day

Do not expect to be perfect at the beginning or that you will solve all the problems in a two by three, this is a path that you will have to travel day after day, and where you will always have to aspire to improvement.

All these changes require a lot of creativity and collaboration between all the participants in a fashion industry, understood as designers and manufacturers. But it is not only the industry that must make changes, consumers too, and here are some things that should be implemented to contribute to the environment.

  • Avoid fast fashion: as we have been saying throughout the article, fast fashion is one of the main causes of this environmental impact, which is why consumers should avoid this “trend” at all costs.
  • Extend the use given to garments: there are consumers who sometimes buy to buy, and then put these garments aside to buy others, which is not correct.
  • Quality before quantity: you should always keep this in mind when buying, do not exceed the number of garments, since in the long run, there are many of them that you will stop using. What really matters is that they are of quality, so invest in it, in better quality, better design and production.
  • Give away or donate: when you have a piece of clothing that no longer fits you or you don't want to use it anymore, don't throw it away. If it is in good condition, it is best to give it away or donate it to someone who really needs it.
  • Buy second-hand fashion: another sustainable recommendation and with which you will contribute to the environment, is buying second-hand clothes, or in any case, clothes that are made with recycled materials
  • Take care of your clothes: Taking care of your clothes is essential, as it will help you save money and give each of the clothes you have a longer useful life. If any of your pieces have any repairable damage, learn how to fix it or take it to a seamstress, and don't throw it away.

These are some recommendations or tips that as industry and consumer you can apply in your day to day to mitigate the environmental impact. Remember that it is a rather alarming issue, which forces us to rethink forms of application for a more sustainable fashion.

Undoubtedly, having a more environmentally friendly consumption and production practice is essential, so everyone should start doing their bit to implement sustainable changes.

In addition, it is necessary to educate and inspire others with our actions, since in this way we can achieve greater change, remember that as I have said, Not everyone knows the consequences of their bad actions, so it costs nothing to inform others of the possible impacts.